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  • Dougie

Au revoir Paris ... Benvenuti a Roma.

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

Our first Italian train -- Frecciarossa 9281. The 7:20 a.m. from Paris Gare de Lyon to Milano Centrale, arriving 2:07 p.m. Change trains and catch the 2:30 p.m. to Rome. We would be in the Eternal City by six o'clock.

When we made the booking for assistance I expressed some doubt the we would make the change of trains in twenty-three minutes. But SalaBlu -- the Italian railways assistance service -- assured me there would be no difficulty. Who was I to argue?

We boarded.

We took the place in the designated wheelchair space (for me) and comfy seat for Spike. The wheelchair space is in a Business Premium carriage. But we pay Standard prices. So thank you TrenItalia. We settled in and not much later travelled faster than I've ever moved without taking off.

I couldn't help thinking -- as we approached 300 km per hour -- that a high speed train system like this might do a whole heap of good for the Australian economy and our climate change reduction targets. Just sayin' new Government.

It did not take long at all to find ourselves in contrasting landscapes as we travelled south. The French Alps -- richly lush with summer greens and fast flowing rivers. But snow lingered on the northern face of high mountain peaks.

The train lingered in Modane on the French edge of the border with Italy. The train crew changed. The first language of communication switched from French to Italian. And because the Italian Government maintained its face mask mandate on public transport (unlike France) crew and passengers were required to put on P2 masks. As far as I could tell, everyone on board complied.

And then we moved again. We entered Italy and once again the landscape changed as we passed through Piedmont to Torino and Milano.

We missed the connection, of course,

The man in the Milano office of the SaluBlu service seemed neither surprised nor put out. I imagine he wondered ... whoever thought the man in the wheelchair could alight from one train, cross the station and board the Roma train in less than twenty-three minutes?

Nincompoops, I imagined hearing inside the man's head. But via audio Google translate on a mobile phone all he actually advised us is that we would have a space on the next train south -- the 3:25 a Roma.

We both said, "grazie Signore", desperate as we were to practice what little of the language we had learned on Babbel.

If the man had asked us to count to ten or debate whether €7:00 was a good price for Spritz, Spike would have responded better than I. As it was, all he said was, "preggo" (like the human Italian person he was) before carrying on with his busy day.

I felt rather chuffed for us. A real conversation in Italian. Others may think I claim too much.

We boarded our second Frecciarossa train of the day. Before we knew it we we speeding through countryside neither of us had seen before.

The train kept to time. An hour and a bit later than anticipated we made the two hundred metre journey to the delightful Gioberti Art Hotel. It has a slight ramp and automatic doors at the main entrance. It has an elevator that everyone uses.

We are tired but happy to be together in Rome. We dined in a nearby Trattoria. Spike had a reasonably priced Spritz to celebrate.

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